Vern Matz is a band from New York City that was formed by two Yale students, in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2016. They started releasing music a year later, and have since released one full-length, an EP, and ten singles (most singles have ended up on a larger body of work). So far this year, they’ve released three singles that we’ve been listening to a lot, Vagabond, Bssh, and Lethe. The singles will all be on their second EP, coming out soon.
Last year, they released a single called Rabbit God. Today, Puddlegum is honored to premiere the music video for Rabbit God. I recently caught up with Danny Belgrad of Vern Matz and talked about the music video, their creative process, and their forthcoming EP.
“The video is mostly our last concert. It’s at an event called ‘Loft Sounds’, which our manager Sam runs. It’s basically cheap alcohol and a big concert in a Bushwick loft,” Danny shared about the Rabbit God video. “My friend Alex shot everything, and there’s a long sequence of me embarrassing my little brother at the end.”
When you listen to Vern Matz, everything feels intentional… from the melodies to the use of space. I asked Danny about how they write their music, hoping to gain an understanding of how they approach their songs. His answer was not disappointing.
“Michael and I have long been writing partners. I write some Vern songs. Most we write together. I think songwriting is a skill, it is meant to be refined and practiced, the same way a basketball shot is.” Danny continued, “Our writing comes in waves. In the first, we vomit ideas. I sing whatever comes to mind, but there is intentionality and emotion attached to this process. Quality doesn’t matter. Melody is king. Strive for three a session.“
“Second wave we finish everything. If my first impulse of lyrics don’t suffice, we fill in the gaps. Michael writes a keyboard or counter melody, if he hasn’t already. If a song makes it to this wave, we like it.“
“Third wave is picking our very best, struggling with it, and figuring out how we record it. I think a song being emotionally expressive is valueless unless it is resonant as a listener. The ones that have that value get recorded.”
From this, you can see they’re methodical in approach to writing and recording. It weeds out weak songs and acts as a filter. You end up writing quite a few songs, but only the ones that connect with listeners get through. I think you can hear that in their songs.
Danny shared more about this process. “We focus on one song a day. We get it to a place where it is almost finished or until we burn out. At night, we will do overdubs and mix the track from the previous day. We work like this for roughly ten days, with our productivity slowly declining due to creative burnout.”
I find it very impressive they finish their songs almost entirely in one day. To do so, you have to focus hard and track nonstop. Waiting a day to mix gives them the opportunity to listen to their song with fresh ears after listening to the same song all day, which will burn out almost anyone.
We’re certainly glad they don’t give on this process. Ten days of focusing takes a lot of energy, but we’re all benefiting from their writing and recording sessions. If you haven’t heard Vern Matz, I’m confident you’ll enjoy it.
Vern Matz links: